What leadership should look like in a new world

The lessons business leaders are learning as the business world adapts to COVID-19

Everyone is working to get back to the way things used to be, but the reality is things won’t be that way for a long time. Today, businesses and business owners are onto new and alternative ways to operate. This new norm will vary sector-to-sector, but certain business practices are universal.

The primary concept in nearly every industry in the new coronavirus-working world is vulnerability. Staff, colleagues, new leads for business, as well as potential new employees — everyone has a shared underlying uncertainty in their lives, including in their working lives.

That is new, and it is not going away. Businesses must now forge a path with a great deal of uncertainty on the horizon. How should businesses owners lead? How can they grow a business on mercurial ground?

Leadership means supporting everyone, unfailingly. Details like safety measures and new methods must come into play and stay there for the foreseeable future. Today, good companies are dedicated to every person’s well being and health — even as the business works to make a profit.

Meeting daily to walk through new protocols and get staff and management feedback is tantamount. Communication, at the highest level, prepares companies and personnel for the unknown. Quality decisions and best-practices must come from leadership, and leadership must consistently practice all new protocols so staff — and colleagues and new business leads — can witness leadership-in-action.

It also means not always having all the answers and being prepared for any and all changes.

Some changes are obvious. As businesses continue to work-from home, they must figure out how to keep business development alive, keep the company brand top-of-mind, and simultaneously lead with strength and empathy.

The hiring process has changed: Interviews are conducted over video, with unexpected and unusual benefits inherent in the process. Seeing one’s personal home, hearing their kids or dogs in the background gives an employer a new and fresh perspective. The typical, in-person interview is formal, even uptight, but video chats bring everything to a level playing field and brings vulnerability into the process.

Business owners are becoming pros, without realizing it, at registering the nuances of video interviews and calls.

The office scene is going to continue to drastically change. Who could have imagined, a year ago, that temperature checks would be part of the day-to-day in an office or on a job site? Workstations have taken on a whole new meaning; those who loathed cubicles now feel safer for them. All normal routines have been thrown out the window.

Playing the pro-active role in how all the change is determined, is implemented and is tweaked over time is leadership’s job. Business owners must create consistency and confidence. Demonstrating all this, even when the way forward is not clear, is mission critical to exuding optimism to the new hire (still important), to current staff and to company growth.

Everyone can relax and push forward when leadership shows up — even when cash flow problems appear, even when business slows, even when it is impossible to predict three months from now. Solid leadership has never been more necessary, because dedicated leadership keeps a business thriving, breeds employee loyalty, and is needed when businesses face a foggy future.

Categories: Business Insights, COVID-19, Management & Leadership